Archives: Ask the expert

Read Tribune question-and-answer interviews with health and lifestyle experts on a wide range of topics.

 Dealing with holiday blues

9:04 PM EST, November 12, 2013

Dealing with holiday blues

Don't let the holiday blues get you this season. While the family get-togethers, gift exchanges and parties are part of the joys of the holidays, for some people those things can be stressful and, in some cases, depressing. We talked to Dr. Fatima Ali, a psychiatrist with Linden Oaks at Edward Hospital and DuPage Mental Health Services, about holiday stress and ways to deal with it. Here is an edited transcript of our interview.

Coaxing bad memories away with smell

October 9, 2013

Coaxing bad memories away with smell

A recent study out of Northwestern University suggests that presenting certain smells during sleep could help reduce fear memories.

Don't fall behind on skin care

September 18, 2013

Don't fall behind on skin care

Though summer is in its final days, this is not the time to let up on skin care when it comes to the sun. We talked to Dr. Mary Martini, a dermatologist and head of the dermatology, pigmented lesions and melanoma program at Northwestern Medicine, for information about skin cancer, warning signs and ways to prevent it. Here's an edited version of our conversation.

Alternative medicine attracts adherents for good or ill

August 21, 2013

Alternative medicine attracts adherents for good or ill

About 50 percent of Americans use alternative medicine — and 10 percent use it on their children, according to Paul Offit, author of the new book, "Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine." (HarperCollins).

NU sleep researcher: Exercise fights insomnia, but it takes time

September 11, 2013

NU sleep researcher: Exercise fights insomnia, but it takes time

While exercise is often recommended to help with insomnia, a recent study by Northwestern University shows that the impact of hitting the gym might take some time to kick in when it comes to better sleep. We talked to study author Dr. Kelly Glazer Baron, a clinical psychologist and director of the behavioral sleep program at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, about the connection between a good night's sleep and exercise. Here's an edited transcript on our interview.

 What food is best for kids heading off to school?

August 7, 2013

What food is best for kids heading off to school?

Back-to-school time is just around the corner, and that means your child will soon be running out the door to catch the bus and waiting in cafeteria lines for lunch. We talked to Toni Havala, a dietitian for Aramark food service at Edward Hospital in Naperville, about ways to make sure your child is getting the right start to the day and eating right at lunch. Here is an edited transcript:

Navigate nature's stings, bites with doctor's advice

July 10, 2013

Navigate nature's stings, bites with doctor's advice

The warmer weather brings out the bugs and flying insects — and some of them bite and sting. But how do you know if you need to take a Benadryl, rush to the emergency room or just put some ice on the sting or bite? We talked to Dr. David Zich, a physician with Northwestern Medicine, for advice on how to handle bee stings, mosquito bites and ticks. Here's an edited version of our interview:

Fatigue can bring problems for children, teens

June 19, 2013

Fatigue can bring problems for children, teens

A recently published study in the American Journal of Psychiatry took a look at the relationship between fatigue and depression in teenagers. Though fatigue is often thought to be a symptom of depression, the study showed that may not always be the case.

Dealing with premature births

May 15, 2013

Dealing with premature births

In recent weeks, the March of Dimes has held its annual March for Babies walks across the Chicago area. The walks benefit community programs and research aimed at helping pregnant moms reach full-term pregnancy. According to the March of Dimes, 1 in 9 babies in the United States is born prematurely. We talked to Dr. Natalia Henner, a neonatologist at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, about premature births. Here is an edited version of the interview.

Keeping gloves off kids' play

March 6, 2013

Keeping gloves off kids' play

In this age of play dates and play groups we sometimes forget that playtime doesn't have to be organized to be fun. And now, a recent study shows that moms who take too much of a role in playtime could find that their children wind up being less engaged with them or showing some negative emotions toward them.

How to navigate allergy season

April 10, 2013

How to navigate allergy season

If your eyes are itching and your nose is running, chances are you know that allergy season already is starting up. So what's an allergy sufferer to do to make it through?

Kids' injury rate rises with the temperature

April 24, 2013

Kids' injury rate rises with the temperature

Before you know it, the kids will be out of school and enjoying summer. And while that usually means lots of fun for children, it can sometimes also mean an injury or a trip to the emergency room.

Ask the Expert: Are soft drinks all that bad?

February 6, 2013

Ask the Expert: Are soft drinks all that bad?

Once again, sugary soft drinks are making headlines — and some soda lovers may not like what they hear.

Exercise found to alleviate symptoms of Parkinson's disease

December 19, 2012

Exercise found to alleviate symptoms of Parkinson's disease

Some 1 million Americans suffer from Parkinson's disease, a degenerative neurological disorder that results from the loss of dopamine-producing cells in the brain. Although there is no cure, researchers have begun to make progress on finding better treatments with fewer side effects, including medications, surgery and, most recently, the importance of exercise.

The flu and you

January 23, 2013

Ask The Expert

The flu and you

Flu season is upon us, and it's been a rough one. If you haven't had the flu this winter, chances are you know someone who has. So, what should we do to keep ourselves from getting it? Some folks are packing their own "flu survival kits," while others are loyal to flu shots. We talked to Dr. Michael Lin, an infectious disease physician with a research interest in influenza at Rush University Medical Center, for some tips on how to make it through the flu season.

Hepatitis C progress in pipeline

January 30, 2013

Hepatitis C progress in pipeline

A diagnosis of hepatitis C — a stubborn virus that is a common cause of chronic liver disease — can be devastating. In 2007, it passed HIV/AIDS in annual deaths, with more than 17,000 annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When good cheer makes you say, 'good grief'

November 28, 2012

When good cheer makes you say, 'good grief'

It's the season of merriment and joy — or at least that's what every TV commercial, magazine ad and thousands of other messages will keep telling us over the next month.

 Nightly ritual can help sleep cycle

March 27, 2013

Nightly ritual can help sleep cycle

Most of us wish we had more hours in a day. Then maybe there would be enough time to get the sleep too many of us are missing. We talked about sleep with Dr. Arnon Rubin, a sleep specialist and pulmonologist at Suburban Pulmonary and Sleep Associates. He treats patients at Adventist Hospitals in Hinsdale, La Grange and Bolingbrook and also at Delnor Hospital in Geneva. Here is an edited transcript:

How to make those healthy resolutions stick

January 2, 2013

How to make those healthy resolutions stick

What is it about the New Year that motivates us to take control of our health and our lives?

Ask the Expert: Ringing in the ears doesn't have to be tolerated

November 14, 2012

Ask the Expert: Ringing in the ears doesn't have to be tolerated

Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, affects an estimated 1 in 20 Americans, according to the American Tinnitus Association. While it is often described as ringing, it can also be buzzing, hissing, whirring or whistling. While it may seem like a mere annoyance, for sufferers it can destroy day-to-day life.

 Ask the expert: Maternal drinking and FASD

September 26, 2012

Ask the expert: Maternal drinking and FASD

The issue of drinking during pregnancy is one that just refuses to go away. It is believed that nearly 1 in 3 women imbibe while pregnant and the American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued a recommendation that every child be screened for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. FASD describes the range of effects in the offspring of women who drink alcohol while pregnant.

 The importance of three R's: Reading, writing and recess

January 9, 2013

The importance of three R's: Reading, writing and recess

In this era of high-stakes testing, recess has taken a back seat to more scholarly pursuits. But don't be so quick to dismiss the value of downtime, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

 Medicine has answers for pelvic floor disorder sufferers

November 7, 2012

Medicine has answers for pelvic floor disorder sufferers

The term "pelvic floor" was not part of polite conversation a generation ago, when women with pelvic floor disorders, or PFDs, often suffered in silence.

Ask the Expert: Ruchi Gupta, pediatrician and author of 'The Food Allergy Experience'

October 24, 2012

Ask the Expert: Ruchi Gupta, pediatrician and author of 'The Food Allergy Experience'

For parents of children with food allergies, navigating everyday life can be like side-stepping land mines.

Men need to talk about prostate cancer and its effects

October 17, 2012

Men need to talk about prostate cancer and its effects

Treatment for certain cancers can affect your sex life, causing a range of symptoms that can make sex with your partner more difficult — or nonexistent. But that doesn't mean you can't have a healthy sex life, says Jeffrey Albaugh, a urology clinical nurse specialist who runs the new Ross Clinic for Sexual Health at NorthShore Glenbrook Hospital, which treats both male and female sexual dysfunction.

 New study gives insight into resistance to Alzheimer's

August 22, 2012

New study gives insight into resistance to Alzheimer's

Everyone will exhibit some kind of cognitive decline with advancing years. But the idea that we can shield ourselves from the most devastating brain diseases,Alzheimer's disease and dementia, is an intriguing prospect and an area of great interest to scientists and an aging population.

Doctor talks about sudden cardiac arrest

October 3, 2012

Doctor talks about sudden cardiac arrest

It's always tragic when someone dies suddenly. But when such an unexpected event happens to a seemingly healthy child or young adult, it's especially devastating.

Sleep plays hefty role in health

October 31, 2012

Sleep plays hefty role in health

The clocks get turned back Sunday and although that extra hour of snoozing is a treat, don't think it can make a dent in the nation's sleep deficit.

 What you need to know before you or a loved one go into the hospital

August 15, 2012

What you need to know before you or a loved one go into the hospital

Most people know they should have an advocate with them when they go into the hospital. But they don't know how to be a good advocate for others. Karen Curtiss isn't a health care professional, but a former marketing consultant and mother of four who started CampaignZERO in 2009 to provide consumers with the strategies and checklists to help reduce medical errors. She compiled her research into a handbook called "Safe and Sound in the Hospital," which is available on Amazon and at CampaignZERO.org. We talked with Curtiss at her Lake Bluff home.

 The hard facts on bones and vitamin D

August 1, 2012

The hard facts on bones and vitamin D

The best way to reduce risk for osteoporosis — a thinning and weakening of the bones — seems to be the subject of ongoing debate. This month brought a fresh round of questions after a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that vitamin D is the key ingredient to preventing and reducing broken bones. Dr. Sonali Khandelwal, a rheumatologist and co-director of the Osteoporosis Center at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center, gave us some answers.

The roots of violence

September 12, 2012

The roots of violence

The massacres in Aurora, Colo., and at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee. The shootings outside the Empire State Building, in which an ex-employee killed his boss. Escalating gang warfare. In recent months, violence seemed to erupt everywhere. To get a better understanding of aggression of all kinds, we called on Stevan Hobfoll, a clinical psychologist and head of the behavioral sciences department at Rush University Medical Center.

With kid at college, it's time to parent from afar

July 25, 2012

With kid at college, it's time to parent from afar

In a few weeks, thousands of parents, after saying goodbye to their children, will be driving away from college campuses with lumps in their throats.

As school starts, expert advises parents: Back off

August 29, 2012

As school starts, expert advises parents: Back off

With kids poised to delve into another school year, Madeline Levine has some advice for parents: Back off.

Mental health care offers easy target for budget ax

July 18, 2012

Mental health care offers easy target for budget ax

Health care has dominated the headlines recently at the federal, state and local levels:

Ask the expert: Dr. Anis Rauf and what you should know about kidney disease

September 5, 2012

Ask the expert: Dr. Anis Rauf and what you should know about kidney disease

We think about being heart healthy. We think about strengthening our bones. But we rarely pondered the state of our kidneys — that is, until Boston Market announced last month that it was removing salt shakers from the tables at its 476 locations.

Neurologist offers insight into seizure disorder

July 4, 2012

Neurologist offers insight into seizure disorder

Last month, Commerce Secretary John Bryson, 68, resigned from his Cabinet post after suffering a seizure while driving, resulting in two car crashes. To get a better understanding of this condition, we turned to Dr. John Ebersole, a national authority on seizure disorders and director of the University of Chicago Adult Epilepsy Center. Here's what the neurologist had to say:

Understanding preeclampsia, a pregnancy disorder

May 16, 2012

Understanding preeclampsia, a pregnancy disorder

Obstetric researchers have made much progress in the last decade to increase the safety of pregnancy and childbirth. But preeclampsia — a potentially life-threatening disorder — has continued to be a stubborn foe that affects almost 300,000 women annually. May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month, and communities nationwide are sponsoring walks to raise funds and educate the public.

Ask the Expert: End-of-life spending

June 27, 2012

Ask the Expert: End-of-life spending

How much money should be spent to prolong a life?

Pay attention to your feet

May 9, 2012

Pay attention to your feet

With warmer weather, out come the sandals … and neglected feet. The scaly heels, yellowed nails and thick calluses that have been under wraps all winter are now on full display. No wonder there are a half-dozen "I Hate Feet" groups on Facebook.

Instilling healthy eating habits in kids is a mission, not a war

March 7, 2012

Instilling healthy eating habits in kids is a mission, not a war

Dr. Laura Jana and Dr. Jennifer Shu are co-authors of a new, updated edition of "Food Fights" — a real world guide to meeting the nutritional challenges of parenthood. The two pediatrician moms have cultivated a laid-back approach to instill healthy eating habits, without turning the dinner table into a battlefield.

Treatment options exist for carpal tunnel

June 6, 2012

Treatment options exist for carpal tunnel

A few decades ago — before computers or checkout scanners — few people had heard of a rare condition called carpal tunnel syndrome. Today, in many offices, wrist splints are as common as Post-it notes. So, how do we keep this modern problem at bay?

A quick review of the state of statins

March 14, 2012

A quick review of the state of statins

Statins are the most prescribed drugs in the world, taken by nearly 21 million Americans. So when anything changes with these cholesterol-lowering medications, it makes headlines.

Ask the Expert: The asthma epidemic

May 2, 2012

Ask the Expert: The asthma epidemic

The sharp increase in asthma since the 1980s — some 34 million Americans now suffer from the condition — has confounded health professionals.

Dr. Howard Kaufman on aspirin and cancer

March 28, 2012

Dr. Howard Kaufman on aspirin and cancer

According to studies published last week in The Lancet, taking a daily dose of aspirin can reduce the risk of cancer.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

April 4, 2012

Ask the Expert

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

It has been two years since a Tennessee mom sent her 7-year-old adopted son back to Russia with a note that read: "I no longer wish to parent this child." While no definitive diagnosis ever was made public, the boy was thought to suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

 Ask the expert: Audiologist Lauren O'Flaherty explains why many Americans live with untreated hearing loss

April 25, 2012

Ask the expert: Audiologist Lauren O'Flaherty explains why many Americans live with untreated hearing loss

Only 1 in 7 people ages 50 and older who should be using hearing aids actually wears a device, according to a recent study led by two Johns Hopkins researchers and published in the "Archives of Internal Medicine."

Q&A on fertility with Dr. Pasquale Patrizio

April 18, 2012

Ask the Expert

Q&A on fertility with Dr. Pasquale Patrizio

In an age of assisted reproductive technology, can you rewind the biological clock? Not as much as you think, say Yale researchers in a study published in a recent issue of "Fertility and Sterility."

Donalee Markus: 'Exercising their brain muscles'

March 21, 2012

Donalee Markus: 'Exercising their brain muscles'

For more than 25 years, Donalee Markus, a Highland Park-based learning specialist, has helped struggling students by emphasizing the importance of "exercising their brain muscles."

After injury, brain can keep on healing

January 4, 2012

After injury, brain can keep on healing

Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords recently gave her first public interview since she was shot in the head almost a year ago. Her journey has increased awareness and interest in speech and language impairments.

Ask the Expert: Q&A with Chicago's public health commissioner

January 18, 2012

Chicago's public health commissioner talks goals

January is the time for resolutions and as commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, Dr. Bechara Choucair is responsible for the wellness goals of an entire city.

What women can do about thinning hair

March 7, 2012

What women can do about thinning hair

No one wants to lose their hair, but for a woman it is particularly distressing. While men can look perfectly presentable — even sexy — with their exposed scalp, no such options exist for the 30 million American women who grapple with thinning tresses. Dr. Maria Colavincenzo, a dermatologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, has a practice that specializes in preserving those precious strands — especially in cases of androgenetic alopecia, a hereditary condition that causes hair loss, mainly on the top and crown of the scalp. Without an appointment, she answered some of our questions:

A manual for married people with Asperger's

January 25, 2012

A manual for married people with Asperger's

David Finch was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a mild autism spectrum disorder, in 2008, at age 30. At that time, he said, his three-year marriage was in a downward spiral because of his odd habits and rigid adherence to routines.

Seniors offer tips for happy lives

February 1, 2012

Seniors offer tips for happy lives

Wouldn't it be great if we could get a "do-over" in life, like when you were a kid and a ball rolled into traffic? Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist at Cornell University, can't fix the mistakes of the past, but he does have some ideas on how we can have fewer regrets in the future.

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